Fish & Wildlife announces 2015 Master Anglers

Courtesy of Vermont Fish & Wildlife

Kelly Brooks of Waterbury caught this 30-inch lake trout while ice fishing on Lake Champlain in early 2015.

2015 program report published, new challenge added for 2016 to include wild card species

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has released its annual Master Angler program report and 35 Vermont anglers have garnered Master Angler status for 2015. Now in its sixth year, the Master Angler program was developed to recognize the achievements of anglers who catch trophy-sized fish from Vermont waters and celebrate the growth and survival of such fish. The program also aims to encourage anglers to improve their knowledge of fish habitat and behavior, and develop the skills required to target and catch a wide variety of fish species.

“2015 was another strong year for the Master Angler program, as we saw over 700 trophy fish entries from more than 200 anglers,” said Shawn Good, fisheries biologist and Master Angler program coordinator with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “In the end, 25 adult anglers and 10 youth anglers completed the challenge and became Master Anglers for 2015. This is not only a great accomplishment, but also a testament to their passion for fishing in Vermont.”

In order to achieve Master Angler status, anglers must enter trophy fish of a minimum length for at least five different species. Anglers are required to submit a photograph of their fish, along with accurate measurements and catch data, including when, where and how the fish was caught. Anglers must also indicate if the fish was harvested or released.

“The entries we saw were representative of the incredible diversity of fish species we have here in Vermont,” said Good. “Of the 33 species eligible for entry into the program, only three did not have entries for 2015.”

Additional highlights from the 2015 Master Angler program include:

  • three trophy fish entries became new all-time state records for Vermont. These include record fish for the species of yellow perch, cisco and redhorse sucker.
  • 13 adult anglers and five youth anglers earned Master Angler status for the second year in a row.
  • Trophy fish entries were received from 85 waters throughout the state.
  • As in the past, the most entries (366), came from Lake Champlain.
  • 58 percent of trophy fish entered were released to continue to grow and potentially be caught another day.

Good also said results of the program year in and year out demonstrate the exceptional quality of fishing opportunities around the state.

“There’s an amazing amount of opportunities on waters of all sizes to catch trophy-sized trout, bass, pike, perch and all the favorite sport fish of anglers around the state,” said Good. “However, when you thumb through the Master Angler report, you’ll quickly see a number of fish species you maybe have never caught yourself, like bowfin, sheepshead, redhorse sucker and fallfish, among others. I’m a big advocate of encouraging anglers to try something a little different once in a while, instead of always fishing for the same thing. The Master Angler report and the website help anglers learn about all the different species you can catch in Vermont, and where. You just need to figure out the ‘how’!”

The traditional Master Angler program will continue for 2016, but department officials have also added a new bonus challenge to continue to test participants’ angling skills and fish knowledge. To complete the bonus challenge, anglers must enter trophy fish for the categories of coldwater, warmwater, panfish, and alternative, plus one “wild card” species. The 2016 bonus challenge species are: lake trout, chain pickerel, fallfish, yellow perch and white sucker.

To view the full 2015 Vermont Master Angler program report, browse past fish entries or enter a trophy fish, visit Vermont Fish & Wildlife Angler Program.

Mountain Times Newsletter

Sign up below to receive the weekly newsletter, which also includes top trending stories and what all the locals are talking about!